State Report SD 1: South Dakota: Go Where They Want Your Business
Go Where They Want Your Business
by Taylor George
One guaranteed quality of South Dakota is her commitment to a business-friendly atmosphere. This commitment is not something South Dakota is shy about. Just consider one of several media campaigns that are broadcast daily into the larger radio airwaves of Minneapolis by the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. Go here to read what they are saying: www.siouxfallsdevelopment.com. Pay particular attention to the vast amount of research which compares taxes and expenditures by state, and concludes that Sioux Falls, SD is one of the best places to do business.
The Sioux Falls Development Foundation conducts daily assaults on the high taxes of the state of MN. These campaigns boast of the fact that South Dakota has no state corporate income tax, no personal property tax, and no state personal income tax. They also provide convincing evidence that doing business in South Dakota can save your business at least $1 million off the bottom line (100-person company). The advertisements also boast of special business-friendly tax breaks that the city of Sioux Falls has enacted for companies relocating to the area, such as significantly reduced commercial property tax for up to 5 years.
The Small Business Survival Committee, a D.C. based small business advocacy group agrees:
With an outstanding 2nd place ranking, South Dakota is one of the friendliest business atmospheres in the nation. The ranking is based on taxes, electricity costs, workers' compensation costs, total crime rate, right to work, number of bureaucrats, and state minimum wage. You can read more about these rankings at: www.bcentral.com/articles/harper/115.asp
During the recession of the past couple years, South Dakota banks assets as well as savings and loan assets have increased significantly. For example, in Sioux Falls alone, bank assets rose from $29 billion in 2000 to $43 billion in 2001. In 2001, the city of Sioux Falls had $322 million of new construction; nearly $130 million of that was non-residential.
South Dakota offers the FSP more than a bustling urban community. South Dakota contains the Black Hills, along with Mount Rushmore. For pictures go here: www.theblackhills.com.
These are the fabled Black Hills of South Dakota, an oasis of pine-clad mountains on the Great Plains. The Black Hills offer everything you expect from a mountain vacation: five national parks, scenic drives, waterfalls, abundant wildlife, acclaimed recreation trails and trout fishing. A place where bison and wild horses still roam free. South Dakota Vacation GuideIf you're wondering whether the Black Hills are as grandiose as some of the mountains in Colorado or Wyoming, don't. They're not as big, but they offer the state a decent amount of tourism, and an interesting landscape compared to the rest of the state, which is mostly flat.
Bob Newland, the Libertarian candidate for Attorney General in the 2002 election, received 12,131 votes. This is interesting for the FSP because it introduces a few questions. Why did Bob Newland receive 12,131 votes, while all other statewide Libertarian candidates received less than a tenth of that amount? Are these 12,131 voters libertarians, or did they just dislike the other two candidates?
One reason is that Newland was at the center of two major referendums on the ballot last fall. One measure would have legalized the growth and cultivation of hemp with less than one percent THC. The other was a measure called "Constitutional Amendment A." The latter received fair amounts of national exposure and would have made it possible for the accused to argue the validity and applicability of laws in South Dakota courts. Unfortunately these measures failed, but Newland did his best to promote them and in doing so may have garnered higher name recognition among libertarian voters.
To read more about efforts in South Dakota for Amendment A go here: www.commonsensejustice.us. Of particular interest are the county-by-county voting results and the analysis about why the measure failed.
To read more about efforts in South Dakota for legalized hemp go here: www.sodakhemp.org
One problem the FSP may encounter is the possibility of voter fraud within the Democratic Party of South Dakota. South Dakota does not require a photo ID to register to vote, and absentee ballots can be obtained without personal appearance. National Review Online also reports that the South Dakota Democratic Party was paying $3-per-head bounties for voter-registration cards. It goes without saying that some voters were receiving more than $3. It certainly is strange that South Dakota has 48% Republican voter registration and has two Democrats for senators.
These political games are particularly bad for the FSP because we know that the media will not afford our project dirty politics, as they will the Democrats. The FSP will have to play a cleaner game given the fact that most media outlets will be unsympathetic toward our cause. We already have conservative talk radio hosts like Michael Medved telling lies about the FSP. Just think what liberals are going to write who are much less sympathetic about reducing the overall size of government.
The FSP must also take into account the large Indian Reservations in South Dakota. The FSP should not take lightly the fact that Indian Reservations depend heavily upon the federal government. This dependence could bring resistance to many of the rights we would propose for all of South Dakota's citizens, including legalized gambling.
On the other hand, the Indians could turn out to help the FSP. County voting results on "Amendment A" show that the Indians supported the measure (see county voting result from above links). The Indians also showed major support for the effort to legalize hemp. In addition to these factors there is speculation that the Indian population in South Dakota is tired of being treated like children by the federal government. This may all mean that in reality the Indians may support our cause more than we would have realized. If those in the FSP can embrace the Indian culture and prove to them that we care about their liberties as well as our own, we could cultivate a lasting friendship.
Another factor for South Dakota is that politics is becoming slightly expensive for a lower population state. According to the Associated Press, $5 million was spent in the primary races for the 2002 federal elections, and most of it by unsuccessful candidates (Joe Kafka, AP, 10/31/2002). AP also reports that campaign spending for governor in South Dakota was in excess of $7 million, breaking the old record of $2.8 million set in 1994. This new trend is probably due to the tightly held senate race between Thune and Johnson which brought a lot of outside money.
South Dakota is a predominantly Republican state, as evidenced by the state legislature. The South Dakota House of Representatives holds 49 Republicans and 21 Democrats, but the Reservations remain the wildcard of South Dakota politics, one just can't be sure how they would respond to reducing the size of state government. For the purposes of the FSP the Reservations would have little to do with early success; later on, however, when the FSP decides to run a candidate for governor, Indian support could become more important. South Dakota is a state that is eager for new business, and it is a state with some disdain for big government, but probably not the level of disdain held in Idaho or Montana.
The greatest asset South Dakota offers the FSP is balance. South Dakota is small enough for our efforts to succeed, yet big enough for us to have a job, or start a small business.